Thursday, November 21, 2013

Green Leafy Collards

When planting a garden, I try to plant super foods that fight diseases such as diabetes.  The vegetables in the garden are free from pesticides and fresh with nutrients, fiber, vitamins and minerals.  Preparing and caring for a garden also gives me a full body exercise several times a week.  This is a great time to plant leafy green vegetables in Northeast Florida.

The powerhouse among the leafy greens is the Georgia Collard.  It is low in calories and carbohydrates.  It is said that in the South, you may be able to purchase collards throughout the year with the exception of July, August, and September.  I planted my collards in early October this year and I have started the harvesting by cutting off a leaf here and there for using in soups and vegetable medleys.

It is important to give these plants plenty of room to grow, at least three (3) feet to spread.  I put nine plants in the ground and they are all doing well.  The collards are rich in vitamins C and K, and calcium.  It also contains beta carotene; the darker the leaves, the more carotene.

I have come to appreciate the collard green so much that I am going to let them be my main leafy green.  I do plan to sow mustard greens and let them flower.  They have such large and bight flower heads and the bees seem to come back again and again to receive their nectar.  Hopefully, they will make the Back Forty Garden and Park their favorite spot.

There is no need to wait for the collard greens to become fully grown:  cut off the bottom leaves and cook them.  Remove the large veins from the leaf and feed the compost.  I do not have a time frame for cooking the collard greens.  Some cook them for hours and others until somewhat tender.  I cook the collards as little as possible and save the cooking juice/broth/water to use in soups, stews, and gravies.  This will save the nutrients.

I prefer to eat my cooked collards with the homemade watermelon rind pickles that I made early this summer.  Other pickle and its juice will also do fine.  Some people like to add pork hocks to the collards when cooking.  I did that one year and found not much of a distinction in taste,  maybe added calories.  Other people like to add some sauteed onions and garlic to the collards.

The Georgia Collards have been plentiful at garden centers this year and they are still available in NE Florida.

Go Green!
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